The White Sox wasted no time establishing their intention of taking their first three-game sweep at Wrigley Field since 2012, belting three homers in the first inning and leaving more than enough room for Dylan Cease’s typical inconsistency to give us little sweat than usual. Eloy Jiménez continues to mount a serious challenge to the Toms Ricketts and Tunney for ownership of the Wrigleyville area, and the Sox came away with a comfortable 9-3 win and a sweet, sweet, sweep
It’s hard to think of a more Dylan Cease™ start than the five-inning, three-run effort turned in by the 25-year-old righthander on Saturday evening, avoiding the worst possible outcome of allowing five hits and three walks by reaching back for 10 strikeouts, his sixth double-digit strikeout game of the season and second in a row. Running a 39% CSW is generally a good way to compensate for allowing a few baserunners. Only six other players this season have at least six games of 10+ punch outs: Gerrit Cole, Tyler Glasnow, Jacob deGrom, Shane Bieber, and as of today, Zack Wheeler. Pretty good company to be in!
Cease averaged a sizzling 97.8 mph on his heater tonight, his highest of the season. Naturally, his hardest pitch of 2021, a 99.7 mph 4-seamer on a full count to Frank Schwindel, resulted in the Cubs’ first two runs of the game coming home to score.
As always, Cease worked himself into trouble just enough to make sure he didn’t quite venture into quality start territory — and make us bite our nails a little bit. But as you can see below, his spin is back at pre-crackdown levels, and his fastball is averaging an elite 10 inches of drop, where less is better. He’s getting better at utilizing his knuckle-curve in the dirt in sequence with the high fastball, but he still can’t command it well enough to not walk two or three hitters per outing and skyrocket his pitch count as he’s forced to strike his way out of jams.
Against a brutal Cubs lineup tonight, it worked just fine. It might not in the future, but this current iteration of Cease is still a work in progress. This wasn’t a performance to be elated over, but it’s hard to be terribly dissatisfied, either.
At least we can keep this one pretty short. I can’t even say the Zach Davies wasn’t fooling anybody, because his 38% CSW (including nine whiffs on the changeup) indicates he had something going for him. More specifically, his sinker wasn’t fooling anybody. Whatever the opposite of “fooling” is, that’s what it’s did. Yes, Thesaurus.com exists, no, I’m not. Anyway, though it did garner a few called strikes, it was also put into play seven times. What happened when it was put into play? Uh.
That’s genuinely one of the most brutal outings I’ve ever seen, as far as batted-ball results go. It’s still a little tough to believe that fewer than 12 months ago, this rotation spot was occupied by Yu Darvish. This is fourth time this season that Davies has allowed seven or more earned runs. Enjoy the numbers.
There weren’t too many moments that one would consider high-leverage in the conventional sense, but the play with the highest leverage index on the night has some logic to it: The 1.34 LI when Dylan Cease got Sergio Alcántara to fly out to center field with two runners on and two out in the third inning. It passes the smell test. Greg Deichmann had just flared an infuriating bloop single to bring the Cubs within four. If there was any moment in which the game was going to get away from Cease, that was it. But he put a 97 mph heater in a good spot on the inside corner, Alcántara couldn’t get a barrel on it, and Cease managed to hold fort for the rest of his time on the hill.
Thanks to the above scenario, Cease led all pitchers on the night with a meager 0.61 pLI, so in lieu of any more comment about that (and without any other place to mention it), let’s cast aside Reynaldo López’s 0.24 pLI and give him a tip of the cap for yet another effective multi-inning relief hour, retiring six of the seven batters he faced, striking out three of them.
This game felt like it had been decided early, and the WPA numbers reflected it. According to FanGraphs, the biggest swing in the game was the first-inning cut from Eloy Jiménez that brought home Adam Engel and gave the Sox a 3-0 lead before Cease even took the hill. It was good for a .155 WPA, trailed by the Andrew Vaughn two-run homer that made it 5-3 (.105) and the first-pitch laser from Tim Anderson that opened the festivities (.099).
Tonight’s win was a team effort, with only one player exceeding .130 WPA. It was exactly who you think it was: the two ding-dong johnsons and two-run double were worth a chunky .250 WPA for Eloy Jiménez. Hi Mom, we’re back!
Hardest hit: Andrew Vaughn’s cake-icing home run in the first inning paced the day with a 107.5 mph exit velocity. Seven of Vaughn’s 13 home runs this season have left the bat at 107 or higher.
Weakest contact: Patrick Wisdom gets the goat of the day, tapping a Ryan Tepera cutter back to the mound at just 55.6 mph to wind down the action in the eighth inning.
Luckiest hit: Almost all of today’s heavy action on offense was well-earned, with the “luckiest” hit in this case being a 104 mph rocket off the bat of Eloy Jiménez for a double that had an expected batting average of .380.
Toughest out: There was clearly a bit of outlier luck on the field today in terms of hard contact finding grass, as a caught 103 mph liner from Yoán Moncada (.520 xBA) was the only one of 13 batted balls with a hit probability greater than 50% to result in an out.
Longest hit: Vaughn had the hardest-hit ball, but Eloy’s first blast of the day had him beat in the distance department, traveling 409 feet to Vaughn’s 407. Yeah, science!
Magic Number: 4.4
The book is closed on José Quintana’s time with the Cubs, having accumulated 4.4 rWAR over parts of four seasons after putting up 17+ over his previous four on the South Side. Entering Sunday night’s game, Eloy Jiménez and Dylan Cease had accumulated 4.4 rWAR between them over fewer than 250 games. To some extent, the trade was a defensible move — the Cubs did what they had to do in trying to repeat. That doesn’t make hindsight any kinder. Starting tonight, any moments (high or low) brought to us by those two are purely surplus value, courtesy of Theo Epstein. That Eloy clearly has a knack for big moments at Wrigley helps the mythology. Anyway, while we’ll always be haunted by whatever big crooked number Tatís Jr. puts up in San Diego, we’ll also always have 4.4.
Hard-hit is any ball off the bat at 95 mph or more
LI measures pressure per play
pLI measures total pressure faced in game
Whiff a swing-and-miss
WPA win probability added measures contributions to the win
xBA expected batting average
Who was the White Sox MVP in tonight’s win?
This poll is closed
Eloy Jiménez (3-for-4, 2 HR, 2B, 2 R, 5 RBI)
Tim Anderson (3-for-5, HR, 2B, 2 R, RBI)
Andrew Vaughn (2-for-3, HR, R, BB, 3 RBI)
Who, if anyone, was the White Sox Cold Cat in their win tonight?
This poll is closed
Seby Zavala (0-for-4, 2 K)
César Hernández (0-for-4, 4 LOB)
South Side Sox Roll Call
I don’t even have to edit the text from last night: Nello Rubio repeats as most active commenter, winning by the slimmest of margins over AnoHito!
|10||Right Size Wrong Shape||24|
|23||South Side Expat||1|
|28||Kongming, Sleeping Dragon||1|
The conclusion of Crosstown Classic Part 1 brought a bevy of green comments to the gamethread, lead by Schoolly_D, Lurker Laura, and Pointerbabe, with props given to Celeste’s excellent gamethread into: